Acting parentally: An argument against sex selection

  • McDougall R
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The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) recent restrictive recommendations on sex selection have highlighted the need for consideration of the plausibility of ethical arguments against sex selection. In this paper, the author suggests a parental virtues approach to some questions of reproductive ethics (including sex selection) as a superior alternative to an exclusively harm focused approach such as the procreative liberty framework. The author formulates a virtue ethics argument against sex selection based on the idea that acceptance is a character trait of the good parent. It is concluded that, because the argument presented posits a wrong in the sex selecting agent's action that is not a harm, the argument could not function as a justification of the HFEA's restrictive position in light of their explicit commitment to procreative liberty; it does, however, suggest that ethical approaches focused exclusively on harm fail to capture all the relevant moral considerations and thus that we should look beyond such approaches.

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  • Rosalind McDougall

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